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Lee expresses hope N. Korea will overcome leader's death

All Headlines 16:58 December 21, 2011

SEOUL, Dec. 21 (Yonhap) -- South Korean President Lee Myung-bak said Wednesday he hopes North Korea will overcome the death of leader Kim Jong-il well so that peace on the divided peninsula will be maintained.

The remark, made during a meeting with religious leaders, appears to reflect concern that Kim's death could cause a power struggle and instability in the communist nation, though Kim's successor and youngest son, Jong-un, has been viewed as in charge so far.

"I hope North Korea will overcome this well and peace on the Korean Peninsula will be maintained," Lee said.

The remark was similar to a government statement issued Tuesday that the South hopes "North Korea will soon restore stability so that both Koreas will be able to work together for the sake of peace and prosperity on the Korean Peninsula."

Lee said successfully overcoming the situation would be good for inter-Korean relations, and that it is important to ensure that the ideological divide in South Korean society won't worsen over Kim's death.

Apparently mindful of the criticism over South Korea's intelligence failure on Kim's death, Lee said that he spoke by phone with leaders of other nations, and that made him believe that the "whole world learned of" the death at the same time.

South Korea's main spy agency, National Intelligence Service, has been under fire for failing to detect Kim's death until Pyongyang's state media made an announcement two days later on Monday.



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